WWE: Possible Brand Split Return is a Bad Idea


The WWE brand split may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but bringing it back now would be a huge mistake.

With Shane McMahon’s WrestleMania 32 match against the Undertaker for control of Monday Night Raw, rumors have begun to swirl that a return of the brand split is imminent. And just as we expect Shane O’Mac to soar from some ridiculous height during his match, so have the expectations soared for those who want to see the divided promotions once more. But those people are obviously lost in the promise of the original brand extension and have forgotten that all it really amounted to was wasted potential.

The split officially began in 2002 (after an insanely convoluted storyline) with Raw and SmackDown working exclusively from one another, each with their own unique rosters, titles, and PPVs with the exception of a few. At the time, it made some degree of sense. Remember, WCW had just been acquired the year before, and the roster was crazy talented with young stars and established veterans. The split gave plenty of up and coming stars a chance to shine that they may not have ever received. Remember, Daniel Bryan’s first World Championship reign was after he was drafted to SmackDown. The same goes for Mark Henry.

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The split ended in 2011 and nearly a decade, and things haven’t changed much in the ensuing years. WWE’s roster isn’t exactly bursting; in fact they’ve been struggling to mount a WrestleMania 32 card with the “talent” on hand. Heck, NXT: Dallas is a more impressive show on paper. Now imagine that depleted roster diminished further. You think you’ve seen Dolph Ziggler vs. the Miz a lot now? Wait until there’s literally nobody else for them to face.

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And just because the rosters are smaller, don’t think that means there will be less titles. No, there will actually be more, because each brand will need their own. The concept of multiple world champions makes about as much sense as the Smackdown/Raw talent exchanges used to, meaning not much at all. The talent exchanges were WWE’s way of masking the problems caused by the split, creating a convenient excuse to have wrestlers basically show up anywhere. It wasn’t long before this creative loophole was exploited every week with superstars appearing on both shows, and then when ECW returned in 2006 they showed up there, too.

Let’s keep it real, though, and admit that Smackdown was pretty amazing for a while during the split.  This was the time when the show was highlighted for being the place to find actual wrestling. Think of how NXT looks now and that is how Smackown was back then for nearly half of the decade-long split. Remember when the King of the Ring tournament was a Smackdown exclusive? Yeah, you’ve got Teddy Long to thank for that. How awesome was Smackdown? It was so good the Undertaker exploded when he got drafted to Raw. Imagine that for just a second.

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Can anyone think of a reason why things could be that good now? The landscape is actually worse for a brand split to occur. Think about it; Monday Night Raw is already 3 hours long and about half of that is Triple H droning on into the microphone while the audience snoozes. Remember when he used to do that during 2 hour shows every single week? You think that extra time will be filled with in-ring action? Not with a depleted roster running the risk of injuries, you won’t.  The only thing you’re guaranteed to get are more R-Truth-Goldust skits. Maybe the return of Hornswoggle. Or some kind of Vince McMahon late night talk show (hey, it has happened).

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Everybody likes it when the WWE shakes things up, and the brand split was like Dwayne Johnson taking on the San Andreas earthquake. But the WWE has more than 5 hours of televised in-ring action every week, not including a 24 hour network where there’s more. If WWE really wants to change things they have a nearly limitless amount of space to do that without treading on old, worn out ground that didn’t prove so fertile the first time.